Watching Soccer in Buenos Aires, Part 2: San Lorenzo
Going to a soccer match in a city filled to the brim with quality teams shouldn’t be a difficult task. But finding a ticket for one of the top two clubs, River Plate and Boca Juniors, can be a miserable affair. We’ve already written about our frustrating experience at a Boca Juniors match, and now continue with the much better time we had at San Lorenzo.
Informed by the experience of getting Boca tickets, I showed up to the San Lorenzo office on Avenida de Mayo plenty early and fully pessimistic. But I needn’t have worried. The line was small, and I soon found myself deep in conversation with the guy ahead of me. A lifelong San Lorenzo fan, he took me under his wing, explaining the history of the club and insisting we sit next to him and his son (whom he wanted me to speak English with). The tickets, in the seated section, nineteen rows up and directly in the middle of the field, were 90 pesos — exactly four times cheaper than what we had paid for the “popular” section in the Bombonera. Incredible.
Again, such a difference from Boca Juniors, where we had no taste of the pre-match atmosphere. There, we’d been part of a tourist group kept separate from “normal” fans, deposited in a garage for crap-tastic pizza and beer, then brought to our seats 90 minutes before the game even started.
We were blessedly on our own for the San Lorenzo match, and in fact didn’t see any other tourists the entire day. Arriving at the team’s Nuevo Gasómetro stadium in Flores, we went straight to the club restaurant which was packed with fans clad in red and blue — hoping to blend in, I bought a ball cap, and we sat down for a US-style meal of hamburgers and Coca-Cola. As is the case throughout Argentina, no alcohol is sold during or before games. Given the already-fiery state of the fans, that’s probably a good thing.
Bellies full, we entered the stadium and found our seats next to the guy I’d met the day before. His kid was way too shy to speak English with us, but we all had a good time. Sitting with real fans in the seated section (the platea) was sooooo much better than with a bunch of fellow tourists in the fan curve (the popular). At Boca, I’d spent the match listening to an Australian brag about running with the bulls in Pamplona. Here, we were with a porteño explaining the lyrics of the songs that the hinchadas were singing, introducing the various players (the team’s best man has the awesome nick-name of Pipi), and telling us about the stadium.
The Stadium & Atmosphere
If I had a complaint about our trip to San Lorenzo, it would be that the stadium is too new, and wasn’t filled to capacity. And it’s found in a nasty area of Buenos Aires. San Lorenzo plays in Flores, but identifies itself strongly with the more central neighborhood of Bodeo. The team’s old stadium, the Gasómetro, was located there until 1979 when it was forced to close by the military dictatorship. A true shame — the old stadium had a capacity of 75,000, tons of history and was known as “The Wembeley of Buenos Aires”. A grass-roots movement is currently advocating the club’s return to Bodeo, under the Law of Historical Reparations: an attempt to rectify some of the wrongs perpetrated upon the city’s people by the military junta.
We wish them luck! The club deserves to play in its own neighborhood. Although the Nuevo Gasómetro wasn’t completely full during the early afternoon game we attended, the fan curve definitely was. And it was every bit as wild as Boca Juniors’. From the Platea, we had a great view of the hinchadas, who filled the stadium with their songs, swaying, jumping, confetti and flags. One fat guy, who our friend referred to as El Gordo Ventilador danced and swung his shirt in a circle over his head for the whole 90 minutes. An impressive display of stamina — he features prominently in our video, below.
The game was great, as well, though the fans were disappointed to see San Lorenzo’s 1-0 lead disappear shortly before the end. Still, I’ll not soon forget the collective insanity which gripped the stadium after that first goal. Pipi has been struggling with injury this season, and only entered the game in the second half. Almost immediately upon touching the pitch, he assisted on the goal … the crowd went nuts. I looked over worriedly at our new friend, who’d ripped his shirt off and was screaming at the top of his lungs, red-faced.
… our trip to San Lorenzo was leagues more fun than Boca. This has mainly to do with the fact that we had booked one of the tourist-oriented packages for Boca Juniors, so it’s not an entirely fair comparison. If it had been possible to buy normal tickets to Boca, we would certainly have had a much better time — but the point is that it wasn’t possible.
At San Lorenzo, we were a real part of the scene. We paid about US $20 for incredible seats in the middle of the field and had the opportunity to meet lifelong fans. So many people only consider River Plate or Boca as options when they’re visiting Buenos Aires, but it definitely pays to broaden the selection. Besides San Lorenzo, you could go to a match at Huracán, whose art-deco stadium is supposed to be incredible, or Racing Club in Avellaneda, known for the fierce loyalty of its hinchada.
–Don’t travel without travel insurance! Ever!
Watching Soccer in Buenos Aires, Part 1: Boca Juniors
Location of the San Lorenzo Ticket Office
Location of the Nueva Gasómetro
This Post Has 12 Comments
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The last photo is awesome!
Sorry for the Boca’s bad experience.
Hey, nice article and i am glad you enjoyed your match. San Lorenzo is my club here in Argentina and i everytime love to go to the ground there… one of my first experiences is written down here: http://deutsch-in-buenosaires.blogspot.com/2011/02/fussball-san-lorenzo-vs-velez-sarsfield.html
unfortunately in german… but i guess you get the idea 😉
We are going regularly to the ground – everytime popular, drop me a line if you want to join us (normally we go with like 4-6 ppl, argentinians, europeans)… it is actually cheaper (40 Pesos) and real fun…
And in general keep up the good work, like what i read so far (i just dropped in your blog via Flickr, as i was searching for Casla pictures for my blog, nice pics btw).
Schade, daß wir jetzt er die Bekanntschaft gemacht haben. Wir sind jetzt nur noch 1 1/2 Tage in Buenos Aires. Wäre echt toll gewesen zusammen auf ein weiters Spiel zu gehen.
Was hat Dich nach Buenos Aire verschlagen? Wo kommste denn her? Bin in Darmstadt aufgewachsen.
Hola Timo!I would like to go to the San Lorenzo game this weekend. Could you take me and one other?Danke!G
Hi Timo,Are you attending the san Lorenzo vs boca game on 3rd November. My friend and I are huuuuge football fans, we are coming to BA for 1 week from UK and from NYC. We want to get tickets for this game, as it is a local derby you think it will be ok to go to the office in Avenida de Mayo?
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Que lindo es ser de san lorenzo, mi tio (cubano) fue a ver ese partido y qedo impresionado con romagnoli y con la hinchada, con las lindas canciones que hacen, vamos ciclon ! <3
vieron lo qe esl ciclon! todos los partidos son asi!la hinchada mas fiel de argentina!
Hey decent blog, glad you enjoyed the experience. I live in Buenos Aires and went and checked out San Lorenzo and Boca Jnrs on the weekend, ground was full, crazy atmosphere. It really is worth highlighting again just how ¨nasty¨ this area is – the ground is in probably the most dangerous area of BsAs (much more dangerous than La Boca). Literally across the other side of the road from the stadium, is one of BsAs most notorious and largest of its 600 odd villas (slums), police dont enter it and they say it is essentially a brazilian favela. Its quite a contrast, when you sit on the South side of the ground you can actually see the Villa from between the two stands (just as the photo above suggests). I would warn tourists and anyone in fact, to be very, very careful if you decide to watch a game at this stadium. Having said that, it was quite an experience on the weekend, as always when going to futbol games in Argentina.
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Wow i saw this searching for pics. The other day i took a English friend to a match and i also explained about “Fat Fan” or “Gordo Ventilador”.Hope to have you again in San LorenzoCheers!